The Collaborative Action for Handicraft Exports project, also known as Action Collaborative pour les Exportations Artisanales (ACEA), creates employment opportunities for Tunisian artisans. The project focuses on increasing local sales and exports of Tunisian handicrafts, especially those made by rural women and cooperatives in the northwest area of the country. A key component of the project is to foster more competitive handicraft value chains, leading to long-term, sustainable economic growth.
The first value chain focuses on essential oils and related products, such as creams, masks, scrubs and soaps. In 2019, the work with this value chain will be replicated with a second handicraft value chain, such as ceramics, natural fibers, embroidery or wood products.
FHI 360 is implementing ACEA — which is funded by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, through the U.S. Embassy in Tunisia — in partnership with the Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of Commerce and the National Office of Handicrafts. FHI 360 is also partnering, through a cluster working group, with other funders, notably the World Bank, the German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ), the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the Swiss Import Promotion Programme (SIPPO).
FHI 360 is directly supporting a core group of seven rural, women-run cooperatives through training, technical assistance and trade fair participation, and facilitation of their participation in the cluster. The cluster —which includes more than 70 private-sector players, applied research institutions, government agencies and buyers — meets every two months and combines the stakeholders’ efforts to implement a market-driven strategy in a collaborative fashion. Through better linkages to other value chain stakeholders, the cluster will help the individual cooperatives thrive. The cluster also allows for better coordination of access to natural resources (such as wild rosemary, thyme and myrtle), quality control, certifications, branding and packaging. FHI 360 identified marketing and branding as the key constraint to exports, and a cluster will help smaller cooperatives be identified as part of a larger brand.